BY AMAN WADUD
Around 12 kms from Biswanath Chariali towards West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh passing through Pabhoi Tea Estate, Tinihuti, a picturesque foothill of the Eastern Himalayas is now a refugee camp for around 3000 Adivasis, Nepali and Karbi population. A local journalist says NDFB( S) runs a parallel government here. From hefty collection of extortion from Tea Garden owners, a percentage of salary from government servants to sacks of rice from farmers every cultivation session, everyone should pay extortion money or terrorist tax to NDFB (S).
Any denial to pay terrorist tax could cost life. In the recent years, two tea garden managers were murdered and one kidnapped and released after paying ransom money. Prominent businessman Adilur Rahman was killed by NDFB(S) in his Mahalakshmi Tea Estate in the same area. On fateful 23rd December, NDFB(S) was on killing spree, it targeted Adivasis all over Assam, Phulbari village just 4 km from Tinihuti Police outpost suffered the most, 37 people mostly children were mercilessly killed by NDFB(S) terrorist. Phulbari village comprised of Adivasi tea workers, Nepalis and Karbis, NDFB(S) who can orchestrate mass murder at will targeted only Adivasis this time. The Nepali and Karbi population also fled Phulbari in fear of getting killed and has now taken shelter in Tinihuti High School and Hamukjuli Primary School.
The relief camps which are in government schools are unhygienic and over crowded with inmates, classrooms has been converted in to bed rooms. Although government is providing with relief materials but it is inadequate, a week after attack makeshift toilets are only under construction in Hamukjuli camp, clean drinking water is another major problem. At a time when Swach Bharat and Nirmal Assam campaigns are at its peak, Tinihuti and Hamukjuli relief camp which are directly maintained by the district administration has made joke of Swach bharat and Nirmal Assam campaign.
Interestingly people from all over Assam are pouring in at relief camps to provide with relief materials, from rice, daal, nutritious biscuits, tonned milk, soaps to blanket and used clothes. The inmates of relief camps wants to go back home but the fear of being attacked again has hold them back. 2 km away from Phulbari village stands the breathtaking Eastern Himalayan range, locals belief NDFB(S) commits heinous crime and hide in the dense forest of Himalayas , this time too they are believed to be hiding here. Although Army is patrolling villages but there’s no news of Army operation in the mountains of Eastern Himalayas which separates Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
On 2nd May this year, Bodo militants from NDFB and Ex BLT cadres along with Bodo forest guards attacked NK Khagrabari village attached to Manas National Park. In 30 minutes they massacred 41 innocent Muslim villagers. Apart from NIA filing charge sheet against 4 accused, government has not done enough to prevent such well planned attack. The attack on 23rd December across Assam on Adivasis should not surprise given government’s soft stand in dealing with terrorist.
Muslims, Adivasis, Nepalis and Karbis are victims of well planned attack, they all are divided by religion, caste and language but united by poverty, illiteracy and government apathy.
This chain of violence on our impoverished and underprivileged fellow citizens must outrage us, the outrage must generate public consensus against terrorism and force government to act tough against terrorist organisations, or we will miserably fail in our duty to stand with our fellow citizens.
I was part of Bagh Hazarika Centre for Cultural Studies team which visited Tinihuti and Hamukjuli relief camp to provide humanitarian assistance.